Could your allergy really be mold illness?

51186706_MOne of the most prevalent and least appreciated health concerns today is caused by exposure to mold. A quarter of the U.S. population is sensitive to molds and don’t know it. And a major part of the problem is that mold illness is often mistaken for allergies, Lyme disease, depression, PTSD or even multiple sclerosis, among other illnesses.

Mold illness is not an allergic reaction, however. It’s an acute, chronic and systemic inflammatory response to toxins released by molds. Also known as mold sickness, mold toxicity or biotoxin illness, it can lead to severe complications — even death, in extreme cases. That’s why we take it very seriously at Proactive Wellness Centers, and develop individual plans to treat it.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is mold?

Mold is a type of fungus. Mold can be found everywhere, but it’s usually invisible to the naked eye until it has grown into large colonies of interconnected networks of individual organisms. It often appears as a fuzzy layer on food, or a slimy coating on a surface, in a wide range of colors.

There are thousands of different species in the world. Unlike plants, mold cannot photosynthesize its own food, so it needs some kind of food source as well as moisture to grow. This is why you’ll find mold growing on fruits and vegetables as well as in damp areas. It can also develop in poorly maintained air conditioning and ventilation systems.

Molds reproduce by producing large amounts of spores that spread by wind or in water. Some cling to clothing or fur, as well. When it finds a suitable environment, grows, and reproduces again. However, the spores can survive a long time before finding a favorable habitat, even in extremes of temperature and pressure.

Most molds don’t start to grow or reproduce at temperatures below 39 degrees F, which is why we refrigerate food down to that temperature. However, any mold spores on refrigerated foods will survive in a dormant stage until the temperature goes up again — which is why you may find fuzz on your peaches after you take them out of the refrigerator overnight.

Mold exposure

A few mold species produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause health problems or even death in other organisms, including humans.

Symptoms of mold exposure are similar to a wide range of other causes:

  • watery, itchy eyes
  • chronic cough
  • sneezing
  • headache
  • rash
  • difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • Sinus and nasal blockage

This is why mold illness is easily misidentified as an allergic reaction, a cold or other illness.

Black mold is often found in water-damaged buildings — in insulation or wallpaper, for instance — following a flood. It can cause severe lung problems.

Why mold illness happens

The human body cannot process mold. About a quarter of the population has a genetic profile that makes them susceptible to mold illness. This happens because of a series of biochemical changes known as the biotoxin pathway.

Diagnosis

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we use a multi-phase process to confirm mold response and then identify the source of the biotoxin. We use a number of different tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to distinguish CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) from Lyme disease, and a range of different genetic and genomics-based tests to personalize the diagnosis and treatment to the individual patient’s body chemistry and needs.

Our Environment Relative Moldiness Index, or ERMI, uses DNA to determine which mold species are present in the patient’s home or workplace. This way, we can find out which biotoxins are affecting the patient, and the extent of the mold problem.

Treatment

Once we have positively identified the presence of mold illness, the type of mold and its source, we can develop a treatment protocol that’s based on the specific health profile and needs of the individual patient.

  1. Get you away from biotoxins—The first step is to end the exposure to mold by getting the patient out of the harmful environment.
  2. Remove biotoxins from the body—Two binding agents, Welchol and cholestyramine, bind to biotoxins in organs and helps to carry them out of the body.
  3. Eradicate infections—About 80% of people with mold illness and other chronic inflammatory conditions have Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci infection, or MARCoNS. This is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection deep in the nose. Removing it allows the patient to return to health.
  4. Clean up the terrain—The road back to health is different for everyone. It can involve evaluating the presence of antigliadin antibodies for non-celiac gluten sensitivity and rebalancing hormones. At every step, we re-test to confirm the body’s balance has been corrected.
  5. Clean up the environment—It makes no sense to return to a moldy, infectious environment. With the specific mold identified, we can help advise the patient on where to look for it in the home or workplace, and how to remove it. Black mold, for example, can be very harmful and may be in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a basement or attic, or between walls.
  6. Develop a proactive diet—To prevent a return of a mold reaction, we work with each patient to find a diet that avoids foods likely to carry molds and mycotoxin, including corn, rye, wheat, rice, peanuts, cottonseed, oil seeds, some cheeses, black pepper, dried fruits, bread and alcoholic beverages.

Don’t wait

Too many people suffer needlessly without realizing their fatigue, nausea, headaches, rashes or other symptoms are caused by mold illness. Many more will waste time and resources seeing allergists and other doctors who are unable to identify the cause of their symptoms, or worse, treat the wrong thing.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above and have not found the cause, call us at Proactive Wellness Centers to set up an appointment and get back on the road to health.

Healthy living for kids

19809673 - happy hispanic people parents giving children piggybackThe holiday season seems to start earlier every year. Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and all the associated school and neighborhood parties can pose a challenge to maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle.

This is especially true for children, who have a lot to keep them busy at this time of year. Not to mention that it’s also cold and flu season.

So here are some tips for parents to help keep their kids healthy at least until the new year.

Keep healthy food choices in reach

There will inevitably be lots of yummy treats, desserts and sweets available to kids from many sources at this time of year. So keep lots of healthy options on hand throughout this season — plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and nutritious meals.

Make sure everyone starts the day with a healthy breakfast to provide them the fuel and energy they’ll need for a busy day.

Try to avoid buying high-calorie, sweetened drinks — there’ll doubtless be lots of opportunity to drink those outside of the home.

Don’t use food as a reward. This encourages the development of poor eating habits.

Get kids involved

We all feel motivated to be healthier when we’re involved in the decision, and kids are no different. Involve them in meal planning and preparation. Have each child help out in making at least one meal a week.

Stay active

With shorter days and colder temperatures, it’s always tempting to give up on outdoor activities at this time of year. Which means parents need to plan ahead. Try to make sure everyone gets between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This doesn’t have to be all at once. A couple of walks through the day can add up. Housework, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or at school, and physical play at home all add up.

Bring the kids grocery shopping. This gets them more involved in making healthy eating choices, and it’s physical activity, too.

If you have a stationary bicycle or other exercise equipment in your home, don’t let it gather dust just because you’re busy with planning or celebrating the holidays.

And there are still plenty of activities you can do outdoors, from simple walks to a game of catch or shooting hoops. Keep it simple and fun.

Avoid infections

Cold and flu season is here. The number one way to reduce your chances of catching one from someone else is frequent, good hand-washing with soap and warm water.

Everyone should also get a flu vaccination every year. And while you’re at it, check to make sure everyone’s immunizations are up to date.

Set a good example

Even though they may not admit it, kids learn their habits from their parents. Model healthy behavior by eating right yourself, staying active every day, not smoking and consuming alcohol in moderation.

For more information on staying healthy, visit our Nutrition and Lifestyle page.

Can you protect yourself against Alzheimers disease?

Old lonely woman sitting near the window in his house.We all forget things occasionally. We misplace our keys temporarily, take longer to perform routine tasks, or forget names, dates and other details once in a while. These are normal signs not only of aging, but of daily life.

But the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) go beyond these normal signs of aging. Our table compares normal signs of aging to signs of AD, to help you tell the difference and take action. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), half of Americans in nursing homes today have some degree of Alzheimer’s disease, a brain condition that leads to cognitive decline and dementia.

In total, Alzheimer’s or AD, affects more than 5 million people in the U.S., causing more than 110,000 deaths, and noted as the sixth-leading cause of deaths in the U.S., according to 2015 data. AD is also a progressive disease. It gets more pronounced over time. And there is also a phase where the disease is affecting the brain without external, obvious symptoms. However, there are ways you can detect the early signs and actions you can take to slow its progress, and the devastating impacts.

What is AD?

Alzheimer’s disease, a brain disorder, is the most common cause of dementia — literally, the “loss of mind” — in seniors. It is a condition characterized by the death of neurons, or nerve cells, and synapses, the connections between them, in the brain. It is associated with the development of plaques and protein tangles in the brain. While these are consequences of aging, people with AD and associated dementia have been found to have greater amounts of plaques and tangles.

In AD, this starts in the hippocampus, the center for memory and learning. This is why the most obvious effects of AD are loss of memory and the ability to perform daily tasks. Dementia also presents as a loss or change in personality, memory, and ability to function independently in the world. Some of the long-term effects of AD and dementia include:

  • loss of ability to do routine activities
  • loss of abilty to understand conversations or instructions
  • inability to communicate, including pain or symptoms of disease
  • difficulty walking
  • loss of balance
  • repeated falls
  • inability to swallow
  • incontinence.

Causes of AD

While no one has yet determined the exact cause of AD, a range of factors are probable. These include genetics (whether a parent or other close relative has had AD), head trauma such as concussion, and long-term exposure to toxins such as molds.

The strongest risk factor so far appears to be family history. Those who have a parent or sibling with AD are more likely to develop AD. International research has also pointed to a number of possible and modifiable risk factors associated with AD: smoking, depression, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, low education, cognitive inactivity and physical inactivity.

Most people who have AD develop it after the age of 65, but early-onset AD can occur in younger people, as well. After age 85, nearly one-third of seniors show signs of AD.

Early warning signs

Below are the early warning signs of AD and looming AD-related dementia. If you notice an increase in several of these in yourself or a loved one, consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

  • personality change
  • mood changes and mood swings
  • inconsistent or inappropriate emotional responses
  • confusion and disorientation
  • decrease in ability to read
  • withdrawal from social situations
  • apathy
  • getting lost frequently
  • angry outbursts, aggression or violence
  • distrust of family members and long-term friends
  • memory loss
  • frustration over inability to remember or communicate
  • difficulty finding the right words to communicate or explain
  • significant decrease in verbal fluency
  • difficulty comprehending conversation or situations
  • inability to remember and repeat a statement immediately after it was given
  • loss of inhibitions.

How to be sure

AD is a progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms and effects become stronger over time. But the root causes of AD have been working in the brain for some time before signs become noticeable.

There is no single test to diagnose dementia or AD. Scientifically, AD can only be proved after death. Clearly, a way to detect signs of AD early would help. That’s what the Bredesen protocol is about. Developed by Dr. Dale Bredesen, it includes blood tests, cognitive evaluations and other indications of overall health. We will also look at environmental and lifestyle factors that may be contributing to symptoms.

Next comes the ReCODE protocol that uses a number of strategies to address the specific health conditions that contribute to A.

We provide ongoing monitoring and adjustment of the

The next step is a multiple modality approach to metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration, or MEND. The goal: slowing the advance of AD and dementia.

In other words, we take the time and devote careful analysis of evidence to develop an individually tailored lifestyle modification guide to mitigate risk of AD. If indicated by test results, this could include bioidentical hormone replacement, treatment for biotoxin and other chronic illnesses, nutritional supplements, and of course follow-up cognitive assessments at regular intervals.

Don’t put off your health

If you’re concerned about your risk of developing AD, or for a loved one, don’t put off finding out more. Read our page on AD, find more resources, and contact us through our quick contact form, or call us at 703-822-5003 during regular office hours.

The secret to staying healthy: Staying active

Senior couple at homeGoing vegetarian or vegan. Eating a high-protien diet. Taking nutritional supplements. Avoiding supplements altogether. Using cannabidiol. Staying away from cannabidiol. Teetotalling. Drinking a glass of red wine each day.

Sound familiar? We’re told every day about a combination of foods and drugs that will keep us healthy longer. And, what is the “best” advice often changes from day to day.

But there is one thing about which the benefits are undeniable: the best thing you can do to maintain your good health as long as possible is to stay physically and mentally active throughout your life.

Benefits of physical activity

Physical activity brings a cascade of physical benefits, no matter what your age. It stimulates the heart, lungs and circulatory system, strengthening them and making them better able to do their jobs. Physical activity strengthens muscles and boosts the function of just about every body system.

Over the long term, regular physical activity can help prevent the loss of bone density and osteoporosis.

Physical activity also improves the health of the brain and mind, as well as the immune system. In other words, a healthy, active lifestyle makes you better able to fight off infection and disease. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Mental activity

Physical exercise or increased activity has proven, real benefits for your mental health. You may have heard of the “runner’s high” — a mood boost that follows not just running, but any physical activity that you enjoy, such as playing a sport or just moving your body. Physical activity releases hormones called endorphins, which cause you to feel pleasure and can help reduce depression.

Your mind needs exercise just as much as your body does. Books, games, music and being with other people are essential to your mental health. What’s more, good mental health can also boost your physical health.

Social activity

Physical activity can also be a social event — a chance to connect with people around you. Sports, group exercises, dancing and other activities are critical in avoiding depression, boosting your mood while exercising body and mind.

Keep it fun

Regular physical, mental and social activity are good for you, no matter who you are or what your situation is. The best news is that it doesn’t have to be extreme or expensive. Just going outside for a walk with a loved one, getting together with friends or colleagues, even gardening can have real, long-lasting health benefits.

Regular activity throughout your life is key, which means you should choose an activity you enjoy. Do what you love, whether it’s hiking solo in the woods, playing catch with your kids or joining your buddies for a weekly game of Ultimate. Whatever gets your heart thumping and your breath faster for a short time will also keep your blood flowing smoothly and your mind sharp.

Keep following us at Proactive Wellness Centers for the latest information on how to stay healthy.

Is mold behind your symptoms?

?????????????????????????????????????????????????Mold has been in the news lately because it has been causing significant health impacts on people. Following floods, or in places where a number of people suddenly become very ill, mold is often found to be the culprit.

Mold is everywhere on earth, and grows quickly wherever mold spores find moisture. Outbreaks of mold-induced illness often follow floods, as black mold grows quickly in the soaked, interior spaces after a flood. Mold can also build up in poorly ventilated or poorly maintained air conditioning or heating systems, which then spread more spores through the building.

While not everyone will get sick from mold exposure, those with sensitivity to mold can suffer significant symptoms. These can range from mild allergic reactions, like stuffy nose, irritated throat, coughing, eye irritation, sometimes skin irritation. They can, however, be more severe for those who are more sensitive, or with suppressed immune systems (seniors, those with chronic conditions, obstructive lung disease).

Symptoms of mold exposure

Mold allergies can present flu-like symptoms. They can also present as mood suppression or depression, and have been proven to trigger asthma symptoms. This means these allergies can be hard to detect for doctors with little experience in treating mold. All too often, patients do not get the right treatment for the underlying cause of their symptoms.

Our approach

At Proactive Wellness Centers, our team studies with leaders in mold and other causes of chronic disease, with a differential diagnosis approach.

We start with a thorough range of laboratory tests, for:

  • heavy metal exposure
  • tick-borne illnesses including Lyme (Borrelia bacterium) and co-infections
  • reactivated viruses

With a full picture of your condition — and remember that 50 percent of our chronically ill patients have more than one disease, with more than one cause — we can devise a comprehensive treatment plan to stop the progress of the illness, and then reverse the effects. Next, we focus on developing interventions to maintain the improvement in your wellness.

Control mold

No matter what, we all have a certain amount of mold spores in our homes. It’s important to keep them from growing.

Mold can be black, brown or other colors. It appears as spots in damp areas, and can smell musty. No matter what color it is, you should remove it immediately.

Clean mold with regular soap and water, or use a mild bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of laundry bleach to 1 gallon of water. Dry thoroughly.

Discourage mold from coming back:

  • Open your windows for fresh air.
  • Regularly ventilate damper areas, like bathrooms, showers, laundry and cooking areas.
  • Control humidity, keeping it at no more than 50 percent.
  • Fix leaky roofs, windows, pipes, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and ducts.
  • If your home is flooded for any reason, thoroughly clean and dry it as soon as possible. Replace wet insulation and any carpets that you cannot dry quickly. Clean with mold-killing products, and use paint with mold inhibitors.

Look for the signs

If you have had symptoms of aches, pains, cold or flu or allergies that persist, despite different treatments from various doctors and specialists, you owe it to yourself to investigate the possibility of sensitivity to mold, Lyme or parasites.

If you’re in the northern Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland or Pennsylvania area, visit or call us about your symptoms.

The surprising effect sugar can have on your mental health

47157756_MThere are certain times of the year when we all indulge in sugar (even taking candy from our kids, if we’re being honest). We may go on baking frenzies during the holidays or have a large slice of cake during birthday celebrations. Or perhaps we sneak in an extra nibble or two of the leftover pie after dinner. It’s okay, we all do it. While everything in moderation is best, we should also consider that an extra spoonful of sugar here and there can take a toll — not just on our waistline, but also on our minds.

Read on to learn more about how sugar can affect our minds:

1. Anxiety

For adults, anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental disorders, where nearly 25% of the population experiences something of the sort. Not all conditions can be attributed to sugar, but did you know that sugar can cause certain symptoms, which can contribute to a panic attack? These symptoms include difficulty thinking, fatigue and shaking.

Cutting back on sugar can help the body to cope with stress in a healthier way by boosting your energy (and keeping you free from harmful sugar highs and crashes).

2. Depression

Speaking of the ups and downs that come with sugar consumption, this roller coaster ride sugar has us on can contribute to an increased risk of depression. Some research explains that sugar suppresses a certain hormone that is low in individuals with depression.

3. Memory

High glucose levels have shown to diminish mental capacity over time. If you’re a little too keen on the cookies, there is a chance you’ll experience deficits in memory, learning and other cognitive functions.

It’s normal to experience sugar cravings every so often. Instead of reaching for refined sugars, your body and mind will thank you for turning to fresh fruit instead. Your body and mind will benefit. Now that is sweet.

Integrative medicine: Treatment for the whole you

Well-being or wellness

A hallmark of Proactive Wellness Centers’ approach is something that we call integrative medicine. We see health as much more than the absence of disease. Integrative medicine’s perspective is to maintain and enhance your health and wellness.

Let’s make one thing clear from the outset: integrative medicine is not a replacement for conventional medical care. For example, some patients use herbal remedies to help reduce the nausea that can be an effect of some pharmacological treatments.

We see integrative medicine as a complement to conventional medicine. Also known as complementary or alternative medicine, integrative medicine takes every aspect of your life into account — mind and body, family and life circumstances.

Looking at the whole person

Each of us is different, with a unique physiology and genetic background.

Our integrative approach starts with getting to know as much as we can about you, our patient. This means getting a complete picture of your overall health with a view to developing a personalized treatment plan.

We avoid the one-size-fits-all approach, and take time and care to develop the plan that will be right for you.

When you first come to us, we do a thorough initial assessment that starts with a detailed health history. We will then send you for some blood tests. With the results in hand, we then talk to you for a more complete picture of your medical history, family history, lifestyle, nutrition, and health symptoms and goals. We also do body composition testing to determine your metabolic health.

We believe all our decisions have to be based on science and evidence. That’s why we use proven diagnostic and testing tools as well as practices for a solid understanding of where your health is now, and where it can be.

Going forward with wellness

With this picture, we start a discussion with you about our preliminary diagnosis — our evaluation of your current state of wellness — and options to help you achieve your health goals.

Treatment plans can involve a range of options, including:

  • comprehensive nutrition plan, with a focus on whole, natural foods and a move away from highly processed food
  • exercise and lifestyle changes
  • detoxification
  • nutraceutical supplements
  • hormone replacement therapy
  • specialized medications
  • other therapies

Depending on your age, vitality and condition, we may refer you for more tests, such as:

  • electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • exercise tolerance
  • prostate, testicular and pelvic ultrasound tests
  • colonoscopy
  • mammogram
  • bone density tests

We use all the information we can possibly find to develop a realistic plan to maximize wellness for your whole body, mind and spirit.

The mind-body link

There is no more important component of your overall health than brain health. That’s why we’ve developed a Brain Health Optimization Program, or BHOP.

Alzheimer’s Disease, which is strongly linked to dementia in aging people, causes more than 110,000 deaths in the United States every year. The incidence is going up around the world, as well.

While there is as yet no known cure for Alzheimer’s, and the exact cause is not fully understood, the latest research suggests that a number of factors could contribute to its development. These include genetics, history of head trauma, toxin exposure and mitochondrial damage.

Our experience has told us that mitochondrial damage can be mitigated through detoxification, nutritional supplementation, healthy eating and other lifestyle factors. We use the Breseden protocol to diagnose and treat cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s, and the related ReCODE protocol to address a number of related health impacts.

Knowledge is health

Your wellness is a product of your knowledge. That’s why we work hard to make sure every patient gets as much information as possible.

Part of every treatment plan is providing you with information and educational resources. The more you know and the better you understand your current health and where it could be, as well as how different treatments, interventions and nutrition work, the more you can be an active force in your own health.

For some treatment plans, you will receive a personalized notebook that lays out your treatment plan, lab results and educational materials. Depending on your plan, the notebook could also include details on your eating plan, exercise or activity plan, medications and nutraceuticals.

You’ll be able to take notes to record your progress and describe symptoms and changes in wellness. This will provide you with the feedback to keep getting better.

Follow-up visits are another key component of your continued wellness plan.

Focus on wellness

Instead of starting with symptoms and illness and then intervening with medications and surgery to fix it, we believe in maintaining and enhancing wellness. We want to empower you to take charge of your health with personalized precision medicine: the right combination of treatments and interventions based on your genetic profile, diagnosis results, symptoms, age, lifestyle, life stage — everything that makes you, you.

Take the first step toward taking charge of your wellness. Take a look at the resources we have available, and start the process of personalized precision medical care.

What you need to know about going from daylight savings to standard time

The time change from daylight savings to standard time is coming up on Nov. 3, when we gain an hour. It always sounds great at first, but then we remember that evenings seem to come much faster, and light streams in our bedroom windows a little on the early side. It may only be an hour, but it can have a huge impact when you consider how much our bodies are affected by light. 45165506 - young man sleeping on bed with alarm on mobile phone display

Although studies show that the spring time change is a little more difficult on our bodies, going from daylight savings time to standard time still isn’t an easy adjustment.

How the time change affects your health

Our bodies (and minds, for that matter) crave routine. While we’re supposed to be getting an extra hour of sleep, the disruption of our circadian rhythm can be detrimental. Studies show that a good night’s sleep is necessary for optimal functioning of all our systems. A good night’s sleep has a profound affect on the brain, helping us to retain information and be more productive. Without it, and especially with a sudden change as will happen on Nov. 3, the incidence of stroke, heart attack, depression and even fatal road accidents goes up.

How to prepare your body for the time change

There are a number of coping mechanisms for ensuring the time change affects you as little as possible. One that most doctors agree on is making sure to continue your exercise routine. Exercise releases natural hormones that can keep time change-related depression at bay.

Sleep specialists also suggest preparing yourself by slowly adjusting the time you go to bed for a period of days before the time change. Start by moving your bedtime by 15 to 30 minutes with the hope that once standard time is here, it’ll be an easier transition.

Also, take advantage of the extra light in the morning! Instead of groggily making your way to the bathroom to start your daily routine, bask in the sunlight coming through open blinds for just a couple of minutes. The effect of light exposure is a positive one.

Other suggestions include: drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine for a handful of hours prior to bed and resist the urge to take naps in the days following the time change.

The move back to standard time doesn’t have to control you; follow these steps to minimize the impact and stay in tip-top shape. Did you know that we also “treat” patients who are healthy and want to stay that way? About half of our patients fit this description! Go to our website to learn how even the healthy can benefit from our wellness and prevention therapies.

Take a proactive approach to your health

Portrait Of Hispanic Family In CountrysideWe need to get beyond the “feel sick, take a pill” approach to health. By taking a proactive approach, we can get healthy and feel better on our own terms without turning to drugs and expensive therapies.

Make the commitment and follow a few simple steps to feeling better on your own terms.

Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start

This is the simplest, most straightforward way to improve your health quickly. Smoking reduces your cardiovascular performance, stresses your heart and lungs, suppresses your immune system and affects just about every other system in your body. What’s more, it has similar impacts on everyone around you, especially children, the elderly and those with weakened immune response.

The good news is that, no matter how long you have been smoking, quitting today will improve your health and extend your life expectancy.

Because smoking tobacco is so addictive, it can be hard to quit. Talk to your primary health care provider, or call us at Proactive Wellness Centers to find out how to get help.

Stay active

An active lifestyle boosts your cardiovascular system, improves bone density, boosts the functioning of every body system and even has profound impacts on your mental health. Aim for 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, of moderate physical activity every week. That’s just over 20 minutes a day, or if you prefer to chill on weekends, half an hour, five days a week.

Choose an activity you enjoy doing, and commit to doing it regularly. It doesn’t have to be a sport that takes time to organize. It can be as simple as taking a walk, playing catch with the kids, even gardening. The important thing is to set aside the time to be physically active every day.

Eat healthy

Choosing a healthy diet can be confusing. It seems that food that was considered healthy last year is scary dangerous this year, and what was bad for you yesterday is what you should be eating today.

Generally speaking, though, a few simple rules always make sense.

  • Start with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Include nuts, too, for healthy fats.
  • Choose fresh food whenever possible. Your body actually burns more calories in digesting raw and fresh compared to processed food. Avoid highly processed and packaged choices, which often have far more salt and sugar added that you might think.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking with them to remove any pesticide residues or other foreign matter that may have gotten onto them.
  • Moderate your intake of red meat. Substitute fish, lean chicken and turkey as alternatives to beef or pork through the week.
  • Choose vegetables and fruits for snacks, avoiding highly processed, packaged sweet and salty options.
  • Don’t worry about fat. Carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, add more to your waistline than fats.
  • Don’t bother with fad diets like keto, paleo or whatever diet celebrities are pushing. Keep it simple.

Maintain a healthy weight

The previous two tips will go a long way to helping you maintain a healthy weight. Check out your body mass index, which compares your height and weight. Try to keep your index below 25 to stay healthy.

If your BMI is over that, your weight is putting more strain on your joints, heart, lungs and cardiovascular system. Reducing by even five pounds can make your knees and back feel better.

Moderate alcohol consumption

Alcohol has longer-lasting and deeper impacts than many of us understand. While moderate consumption can help with mood and certainly is a factor in social gatherings — which are important for mental health — excessive alcohol consumption can have severe and long-lasting impacts on health.

Men should consume no more than 15 drinks per week, including beer, wine and spirits. Women should not have more than 10 drinks per week.

Protect yourself from excess sun

Wear sunscreen or sun block when you go outside, even on warm, overcast days. Wear a hat and long-sleeved shirt. Try to stay out of the sun at the brightest, hottest time of day, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Avoid tanning booths.

Get enough sleep

Sufficient sleep is vital to the quality of your waking life, including your mood, heart health, immune system, productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.

Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Children under 12 need as much as 10 to 13, while teens need 8 to 10 hours.

Try to avoid looking at computer screens, especially phones and tablets, just before bedtime. The light has been found to interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

See your doctor regularly

All children and adults should have regular medical checkups. — this includes young, healthy adult men. It’s far better to find problems early, when they’re easier to treat.

All adults should ask for regular checks for colon and rectal cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer for smokers and ex-smokers.

If you do feel ill, don’t wait to seek help. Frequent low-grade illnesses, chronic fatigue and constant aches can be signals of a deeper issue.

See your family doctor or call us at Proactive Wellness Centers, 703-822-5003, to find out how to take charge of your health.

Biggest health risks for young men

Sad moody man having a headacheStrong and capable. That’s the image many young men like to present to the world. But all too often, that image interferes with a man’s willingness to recognize he has health problems.

In fact, men often don’t make their own health a priority, according to the American Journal of Men’s Health. They don’t see their doctor for health issues as often as women do, which means they miss opportunities to treat health problems early. One result of this is that, statistically, women are healthier than men. Their average life expectancy is five years longer than the life expectancy for men.

Here are some of the leading health risks for young men in the United States today:

Injuries

Trauma from injuries is the leading cause of death and disability among young people, especially due to automotive accidents. Taking away cars and roads as a factor, drowning is one of the leading causes of death among young people, and more than two-thirds of the drowning fatalities every year are male.

Ironically, swimming can have immense health benefits. The solution is education on water safety and how to swim.

Mental health

Depression is one of the leading causes of illness and death among young people. While women were once thought to be more prone to depression than men, today the thinking is that men are more likely to hide their depressed feelings.

Depression can disturb sleep, appetite, energy and performance in many activities, and even contributes to heart disease. All too often, it increases risk of suicide.

Regular exercise and good relationships with family, friends and community can have profound impacts on mood and depression.

Lung cancer

By the time lung cancer is found, it’s often so advanced that it’s difficult to cure. Less than half of men who are diagnosed with lung cancer survive a year.

Ninety percent of lung cancer is caused by tobacco smoke. While smoking rates have been falling in the United States for years, lung cancer is still the leading cancer killer in men.

Quitting smoking reduces the risk, no matter how long you’ve been smoking. Regular checkups are important for smokers and non-smokers alike.

Diabetes

Untreated diabetes can damage kidneys and nerves, leading to blindness, amputation, heart disease and stroke. It also reduces testosterone levels and contributes to impotence, depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, one third of boys born in 2000 — now young adults — will develop diabetes in their lifetimes. The main contributor is excess weight are and obesity.

The best way to control diabetes is through a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Young men whose family members have diabetes should also have regular screenings from their doctors.

Heart disease

While we think of this as more of an older person’s problem, heart disease can strike at any age. High blood pressure, a main contributor to heart disease, is common in males under age 45, according to the American Heart Association. Regular checkups, avoiding smoking and controlling cholesterol can help keep your heart healthy.

Alcohol

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that twice as many men as women have alcohol-related deaths and hospitalization. Men binge drink twice as much as women, as well.

Alcohol consumption increases the risk for cancer, interferes with testicular function, and can lead to impotence, infertility and suicide attempts.

Take charge of your health

The good news is that the younger you are, the easier it is to take charge of improving your health on your own terms. Call us at Proactive Wellness Centers today to find out how we can help you take a proactive approach to your health.